What Classes Are Taught in Commercial Truck Driving Schools?

There are a variety of required classes taught in commercial truck driving schools. These classes deal not only with driving procedures but many other necessary aspects of the truck driving experience. This article includes a brief overview of typical commercial truck driving curricula and common classes with brief descriptions. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Educational Program Overview

Commercial truck driving schools prepare students to obtain their Class 'A' Commercial Driver's License (CDL). This license allows drivers to operate different types of tractor trailers. Generally, students with little to no experience can join such a program, and graduates should be prepared to begin entry-level truck driving positions.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Programs Training typically combines in-class lessons on driving theory, safety and CDL test prep with a hands-on, behind-the-wheel section
Prerequisites A Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) is necessary to practice driving on public roads; students must also be over 18 and have a good driving record
Online Availability None - students must undergo in-person training with an instructor at their side
Possible Careers Heavy truck or tractor-trailer truck driver
Median Salary (2018) $43,680 (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Total training lengths vary, but usually last anywhere from 150 to 200 hours, which includes in-class and skill portions. Many schools offering such programs provide night, evening, and weekend courses to fit into the schedules of working adults. Aspiring truck drivers should consider enrolling in programs that are certified by a recognized institution, such as the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI).

Typical Coursework

The following are common classes in PTDI-certified programs, along with specific topics covered. Different programs don't necessarily group the topics the same way, but the same information is covered.

  • CDL: air brakes, combination vehicles (doubles and triples), general knowledge, hazardous materials, and tank trucks
  • Basic operation: shifting, vehicle and control systems, orientation, vehicle inspection, tandem axles and sliding fifth wheels, coupling and uncoupling, hours of service, and backing up
  • Safe operating practices: speed and pace management, vehicle communication, and visual search
  • Advanced procedures: skid control and recovery, extreme driving conditions, night driving, emergency maneuvers, and hazard identification
  • Vehicle systems and malfunctions: servicing, preventive maintenance, recognizing malfunctions, and reporting problems
  • Other activities: professionalism, common terminology, family and personal management, lifestyle adjustment, employer and public relations, scale house operations, documenting and handling cargo, motivation, and employment

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

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    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
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  • Fortis College

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    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

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    • Tennessee: Cookeville
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  • William T McFatter Technical College

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    • Florida: Davie
  • West Georgia Technical College

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    • Georgia: Waco
  • Waukesha County Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Pewaukee
  • Washington-Holmes Technical Center

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    • Florida: Chipley
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

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    • Georgia: Valdosta
  • Walla Walla Community College

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    • Washington: Walla Walla